Anthropometric variance in humans: Assessing Renaissance concepts in modern applications

  • Lon Kilgore University of the West of Scotland
Keywords: anthropometry, health, exercise, da Vinci, Vitruvius


Visual analysis of human anatomical and segmental variation are valuable tools for analysing and modifying exercise positions for movement efficiency, health, and safety. The most widely known visual technique for determining whether a body segment is long, short, or normal is based on da Vinci’s 1487 Vitruvian Man. In the more than five centuries since, human height has changed. This pilot study explores whether the change in stature affects the validity of da Vinci’s original estimations of anthropometry relative to modern populations. The present day data deviated across all Vitruvian segments. Of the nine male and six female subjects, none matched the model, thus indicating the need for further investigation on a larger scale. Male segmental lengths were more different from the Vitruvian standard (p=0.0002) than female segmental lengths (p=0.2457). However, it was noted that da Vinci’s estimations were within one SD of the present means; thus, the model may still be cautiously applied as a guide for health professionals.